The following are the Rules of Nouns —

Noun – correct uses: rules

Rule 1 – Nouns always Plural

The under noted Nouns are always used in the Plural Number. They always take Plural verbs. They cannot be used as Singular Nouns by removing ‘s’.
They are –

Alms, thanks, riches, caves, species, scissors, trousers, pants, clippers, tongs, bellows, gallows, fangs, measles, eyeglasses, goggles, amends, annals, archives, ashes, arrears, athletics, auspices, belongings, breeches, bowels, braces, binoculars, billiards, customs, congratulations, dregs, earnings, entrails, embers, fetters, fireworks, lodgings, lees, mumps, odds, outskirts, particulars, proceeds, proceedings, regards, remains, savings, shambles, shears, spectacles, surroundings, tidings, troops, tactics, vegetables, valuables, wages, works, innings.

These Nouns are always used as Plural Nouns with Plural verbs. As –
  1. He gave him alms. ('He gave him an alm' is wrong)
  2. His trousers are dirty. (‘His trouser is dirty’ is wrong)
  3. He lives on the outskirts of the town.
  4. What are your monthly earnings?

Rule 2 – Nouns always Singular

Some Nouns are always used in the Singular Number. They are –
Poetry, scenery, machinery, stationary, crockery, luggage, baggage, postage, knowledge, breakage, jewellery, information, furniture, money, wastage. As –
  1. Kashmir is famous for its colourful scenery. (not sceneries)
  2. It is an anthology of poetry. (not poetries)
  3. He has imported all his machinery from Germany. (not machineries)
  4. I have no information from him. (not informations)
Note:–  If it is necessary to indicate the Singular or the Plural Number of these Nouns, the method is this: (a) for Singular Number, we say a piece of, an item of, an article of, and (b) for Plural Number we use pieces of, items of, articles of, kinds of, etc. These phrases are placed before these Nouns, but the Noun is retained in the Singular Number. As –
  1. Singular
    • I have a piece of information for you
    • This item of your furniture is really beautiful.
    • I don't like this article of jewellery.
  2. Plural
    • All kinds of furniture are available here.
    • I want only a few articles of stationary.
    • All pieces of information given by him are wrong.

Rule 3 – Nouns Plural in Forms but Singular in Use

There are some Nouns which are Plural in form but Singular in usage. They always take a Singular verb. They are –
News, Innings, Physics, Politics, Mathematics, Mechanics, Ethics, Economics, etc. As –
  1. Mathematics is a difficult subject.
  2. Ethics makes the basis of good life.
  3. Politics has lost its moral character.
  4. Economics is an optional subject.

Rule 4 – Nouns Singular in Forms but Plural in Use

There are some Nouns which are Singular in form but Plural in meaning. They always take a Plural verb. They are –
Cattle, gentry, clergy, cavalry, infantry, nobility, poultry, peasantry, children, admiralty, yeomantry, etc.
Family’ is used both in the Singular and Plural numbers according to sense. As –
  1. The cattle are grazing in the field.
  2. The peasantry are very happy.
  3. Our cavalry are very strong.
Note:–
  1. Since these Nouns are used only in Plural Number (though singular in form), they should not be made plural by adding ‘s’ or ‘es’. For example, the following sentences are wrong –
    • The gentries have come.
    • Our poultries are healthy.
  2. The following Nouns remain the same in both Singular and Plural numbers and they can be used both as Singular and Plural in the same form. They should not be made Plural by adding ‘s’ or ‘es’. They are –
    • The police has been informed. Or,
      The police have taken action.
    • The swine are dirty animals. Or,
      You are a dirty swine.
  3. People’ in the sense of group of persons is always used in the Plural number. But when the word ‘people’ is used in the sense of a Nation, it can be used both as Singular (a people) and Plural as – 'The peoples of America and China are on friendly terms.'

Rule 5 – Noun with Numeral Adjective

Some Nouns coming after Definite Numeral Adjectives are always used in the Singular Number. They are –
Pair, dozen, score, gross, stone, hundred, thousand, million, billion, etc. As –
  1. Two pair of shoes. (not, two pairs of shoes)
  2. Four dozen pencils.
  3. Three score and ten.
  4. Five thousand dollars.
  5. Ten million people. etc.
But if the Numeral Adjective is Indefinite, all the Nouns given above will be used in the Plural Number. As –
  1. Dozens of people
  2. Thousands of workers
  3. Millions of pounds
  4. Scores of houses
  5. Many pairs of shoes
  6. In millions, etc.

Rule 6 – Numeral Adjective + Hyphen + Noun

If a compound word is formed by joining a Definite Numeral Adjective and a Noun (by hyphen), the Noun so used will always be in the Singular Number. As –
  • Here is a five-dollar note.
Here you will see that a Definite Numeral Adjective (five) is joined with a Noun (dollar) by a hyphen, and the Noun (dollar) is in Singular Number. It will be wrong to say ‘five-dollars note’.
Similarly, the following sentences are correct –
  1. Please lend me a ten-dollar note.
  2. He gave me a hundred-dollar note.
  3. This is included in our ten-year plan.
  4. He fell down from a ten-foot high wall.
  5. A three-man enquiry committee has been set up.
  6. There was a twenty-foot deep ditch.
  7. A five-judge bench will hear this case.

Rule 7 – Noun +Preposition + the same Noun repeated

If the same Noun is repeated before and after a Preposition, the Noun is used in the Singular Number each time. In such cases the verb is also used in the Singular Number. As –
  • Ship after ship arrived at the port.
Here, ‘Ships after ships’ will be wrong. Similarly the following sentences are correct –
  1. Mistake after mistake was committed.
  2. Chance after chance was lost.
  3. He begged from door to door.
  4. Wave upon wave rose in the sea.
  5. We can read meaning within meaning in this poem.

Rule 8 – Article + several Adjectives + Noun

If two or more than two Adjectives are connected with ‘and’ and the Article has been used only before the first Adjective, the Noun used after them will be in the Plural Number. But if the Article is used before each Adjective, the Noun will be in the Singular Number. As –
  1. Shakespeare was very popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  2. Shakespeare was very popular in the sixteenth and the seventeenth century.
  3. Very heavy wigs were worn in the Elizabethan and Jacobean Ages.
  4. Very heavy wigs were worn in the Elizabethan and the Jacobean Age.

Rule 9 – Numeral Adjective + Noun + Fraction

If a Numeral Adjective and a fraction (a half, a quarter, three quarters, etc.) are to be used with a Noun, the structure of the sentence will be as follows –

  1. The train is late by one hour and a half.
  2. The train is late by two hours and a half.
The following structure will be wrong –
  1. The train is late by one and a half hour.
  2. The train is late by two and a half hours.
Under this rule, the correct structure is this –
»»Noun is used after the Numeral Adjective, and the number of the Noun is Singular or Plural according to the Numeral Adjective (i.e., the Noun is Singular with ‘a/an/one’, and Plural with two, three, etc.). And after the Noun, the fraction (and a half, and a quarter, and three quarters, etc.) should be used. The following are some more examples –
  1. I have one dollar and a half.
  2. I have read five chapters and a half.
  3. I have been waiting for five hours and a quarter.
  4. The distance is four kilometers and three quarters.
  5. Its weight is a kilo and a half.
Expressions such as One and a half dollar; five and a half chapters; five and a quarter hours; four and three quarters kilometers; one and a half kilo, are wrong.

Note:– If a Numeral Adjective and a fraction are joined by ‘and’ and they are used in the sense of multiplication, and the Noun is always used placed after them, and the Noun is always used in the Plural Number. As –
  1. The amount will grow one and a half times.
  2. The amount will grow two and a half times.
In such cases One time and a half or two times and a half are wrong.

Rule 10 – Adjectives used as Plural Nouns

Some Adjectives preceded by ‘the’ are used as Plural Noun. As – the poor; the rich; the meek; the down-trodden, etc. As –
  1. We should help the poor.
  2. The rich should not be proud.
  3. The meek are blessed.
  4. The sick should be carefully looked after.
It is wrong to try to make these Adjectives Plural by adding ‘s’ or ‘es’ to them. They are already Plural in their sense. As – the poors, the riches, the meeks, the sicks. All these are wrong expressions.

Rules 11 – Nouns/Pronouns of Common Gender (Dual Gender)

The following Nouns are of Common Gender, i.e., they can be used both as Masculine or Feminine Genders. Thus, they are of Dual Gender. They are –

Child, baby, friend, student, teacher, lecturer, professor, pupil, artist, author, reader, servant, worker, poet, speaker, writer, typist, engineer, lawyer, advocate, client, clerk, conductor, musician, politician, minister, leader, dealer, secretary, enemy, parent, relation, cousin, orphan, neighbour, person, president, monarch, statesman, publicman, chairman, sportsman, spokesman, spokesperson, chairperson.

As –
  1. She is my friend.
  2. He is my friend.
  3. My teacher is Miss Bose.
  4. My teacher is Mr. Bose.
  5. He is our Finance Minister.
  6. She is our Finance Minister.
Note –
  1. Some Grammarian hold that Nouns of Common Gender which have ‘man’ joined with them should not be used with Feminine Gender Nouns. As –

    • She is a sportsman/chairman/spokesman/publicman/statesman.

    In such cases, ‘person’ has come to be used in place of ‘man’. As –

      chairperson, spokesperson, statesperson, mediaperson, etc.

  2. Sometimes, Poetess and Authoress are also used for Feminine Gender.

  3. A typical difficulty arises when a Pronoun is to be used with a Common Gender Noun in the Singular Number. For example, which of the following pronouns (his or her) is correct.

    • Every teacher should do his duty. Or,
    • Every teacher should do her duty.

    In all such cases, Third Person, Masculine Gender (his) should be used. As –

    • Every teacher should do his duty.
    • No student should waste his time.

    Some scholars hold that both genders connected  with ‘or’ (his or her) should be used. As –

    • Every teacher should do his or her duty.

    But this can be desirable in legal language only. In the normal routine case, only Third Person Masculine Gender (He, His, Him) should be used.

Rule 12 – Nouns with one meaning in Singular and another in Plural.

Some Nouns have one meaning in Singular Number and another and quite different meaning in the Plural Number. They are –
Singular
(Normal Meaning)
Plural
(Typical Meaning)

Abuse (misuse)
Advice (counsel, opinion)
Air
Alphabet
Compass (limit)
Colour
Custom
Effect (as noun)
Force
Good
Iron
Manner
Number
Pain
Premise (supposition, introduction)
Physic (medicine)
Quarter (fourth part)
Return
Sand
Water
Wood
Letter
Ground
Abuses (bad habits and customs)
Advices (items of information)
Airs (arrogant show)
Alphabets (language)
Compasses (a geometrical instrument)
Colours (flag)
Customs (levies on goods imported)
Effects (household luggage)
Forces (armies)
Goods (luggage)
Irons (chains, fetters)
Manners (behaviour)
Number (feet or rhythm in poetry)
Pains (efforts)
Premises (site, situation)
Physics (a branch of science)
Quarters (small house)
Returns (accounting)
Sands (desert)
Waters (oceans)
Woods (jungle)
Letters (literature, scholarship)
Grounds (reasons)